After half a decade of service, Junior Hoilett’s contract is set to expire in the Summer.
Since joining the club as a free agent in October 2016- the first signing of the Neil Warnock era- a wide range of highs and lows have been married with the Canadian.
The height of Hoilett’s spell in South Wales came in the 2017/18 campaign when the Bluebirds secured a remarkable return to the Premier League against all odds.
In particular, the Blackburn Rovers academy product was paramount, registering 9 goals and 11 assists to emerge as one of the division’s most potent attackers at that time.
Now though, that wealth of supremacy and virtuosity has seemingly surpassed the 30-year old.
Is it worth renewing Hoilett’s contract?
For me, the answer is short and simple.
A renewal would firmly betray Cardiff’s philosophy of lowering the squad’s average age and transitioning youth prospects into the first team.
And at the end of the campaign, Hoilett will be celebrating his 31st birthday. At the same time, you have Kieron Evans waiting in the wings. The 19-year old is universally recognised as one of Cardiff’s brightest young talents, evidenced by the surfacing top-flight interest as of late.
It is worth noting that Evans shares the same position as his veteran colleague, and as well as serving as an aid to his progression, offering the attacker extended opportunities in the first team could convince him to stay.
However, it is not just the fact that Hoilett is not getting any younger that leads me to believe that renewing his contract may not be in Cardiff’s best interests.
Quite frankly, Hoilett is a shadow of his former self.
Following Cardiff’s promotion, the ex-QPR wide man has failed to rack up more than 10 goal involvements in any of his three seasons since, a dubious return for a winger often renowned for heavy direct contribution in the final third.
This term, Hoilett has experienced an extremely emphasised deterioration.
In 21 outings, the Ontario native has only mustered 2 goals and 2 assists, a personal joint-worst return since plying his trade at Loftus Road in the 2014/15 Premier League campaign.
And since the revival-sparking Mick McCarthy clasped the reigns, an air of peripherality has consumed the Canadian International.
Despite returning to full fitness, Hoilett has merely registered 50 minutes of football under the former Wolves boss, that coming in his opening encounter away to Barnsley.
With the sparkling form of Sheyi Ojo and Josh Murphy, Hoilett’s fortunes do not seem to harbour any signs of improvement, either.
More to his detriment, a facilitative formation to Hoilett is not present. Instead of using out-and-out wingers, Cardiff now deploy a 5-3-2, which involves a secondary striker playing off the shoulder of Kieffer Moore.
In this tactical reinvention, the channel-running forward is tasked with making runs in behind defences and using a combination of speed and calculation to devastate opponents.
Undoubtedly, Ojo and Murphy are better-equipped for this role than Hoilett, who has fallen under a weight of criticism due to his decelerating pace in and out of possession.
Ultimately, it is difficult to envision where Hoilett still fits in at the Cardiff City Stadium. Cardiff are a club that, with their quality, investment and size, should be challenging for a place in England’s top tier season after season.
It would be a fair sentiment to state that unfortunately, the winger no longer possesses the prowess to hold his own for a side towards the top end of the Championship.
Still, Hoilett beholds some technical attributes and more prominently, a plentitude of experience and know-how within English Football that could earmark his presence as a valuable one to pursue a variety of second-tier outfits.
Though conclusively, I think now is a perfect time to respectfully conclude Hoilett’s time in South Wales.
featured image credit transfer markt